U.S. Representative Meets with IALC Partners in Israel, Jordan--Sees Partnership in Action

1 February 1999

U.S. Congressman Joe Skeen (Republican-New Mexico) traveled with several IALC representatives to the Middle East this January as part of a special mission devoted to exploring regional water management. Representative Skeen, and his aide, Mr. James D. Richards, looked at the Consortium's capabilities involving water supply and desalinization in Jordan and Egypt, and met with many U.S., Israeli and Jordanian government officials committed to the cooperative projects supported by the IALC. They also met with IALC partners from Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (the Israeli arm of the Jewish National Fund), and IALC scientists working on projects in both countries.

Dr. Kennith Foster, IALC president, notes that visits to the region by Congressional members are key to the IALC's continued success:

"There is no doubt that the IALC is a major player in environmental and water management in the Middle East-- and our integrative approach, our policy of bringing together Israeli and Arab partners, is wholly unique in this field. That's why it is essential that our friends on Capitol Hill actually witness the important collaborative work that's going on right now, and that they talk with the officials of the countries that are so positively affected by our water and land development, and even more importantly, benefit from the positive relationships that are struck between our partners in the region."

From January 12-18 1999, Rep. Skeen journeyed through Israel and Jordan with a delegation consisting of IALC president Dr. Kennith Foster, IALC board member Dr. Gary Cunningham, New Mexico State University president Dr. William Conroy, Dr. Eugene G. Sander (vice provost and dean at the College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona) and IALC Washington representative Mr. Patrick Mitchell. Included in the itinerary were stops at Jerusalem Forest and Park Rabin, a special tree planting ceremony at the American Independence Park, and a tour of IALC collaborative projects at Sde Boker with Dr. Uriel Safriel, director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research.

Meetings with high-level government and KKL officials were also a major component of the trip. In Israel, Rep. Skeen met with President Ezer Weizman, Deputy Prime Minister of Agriculture Dr. Rafael Eitan, KKL chairman Shlomo Gravetz, KKL Director General Dr. Itzhak Elyashive, KKL R&D chair Mr. David Nahmias and KKL director Dr. Menachem Sachs. U.S. officials included U.S. ambassador to Israel Mr. Edward Walker, U.S. cultural attache Ms. Julie Gianelloni-Connor, and special assistant to the U.S. ambassador Mr. James Loftus.

Rep. Skeen's visit to Amman, Jordan included meetings with H.R.H. Prince El-Hassan bin Talal (King Hussein's brother), H.R.H. Princess Sharifa Zein bint Nasser, Minister of Agriculture H.E. Mijhem Khreisha and president of the University of Jordan Professor Walid Ma'ani. He also met with the U.S. ambassador to Jordan Mr. William Burns and embassy environmental officer Mr. George Sibley, along with numerous representatives of the Higher Council for Science and Technology (including long-time IALC friend Dr. Mohammad Shahbaz,the Council's director), the Royal Jordanian Geographic Center, and the National Center for Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer.

Rep. Skeen currently chairs the House Subcommittee on Agriculture of the Committee on Appropriations, and is a long-time supporter of the IALC. This was his first visit with the IALC to the region.